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Exactly a year ago, we began to power the Hacker News search engine (see our blog post). Since then, our HN search project has grown a lot, expanding from 20M to 25M indexed items, and serving from 900K to 30M searches a month.
In addition to hn.algolia.com we’re also providing the HN Search API: a lot of you have used it to build various readers or monitor tools and we love the applications you’re building on top of us. The community was also pretty active on GitHub, requesting improvements and catching bugs… keep on contributing!
That’s what motivated us to release a new experimental version of HN Search. Try it out and tell us what you think!
We’ve learned a lot of things from the comments of the users of the previous version. We also took a look at all the cool apps built on top of our API. We wanted to apply more UI best practices and here is what we ended with:
We’ve learned a lot from your comments while releasing our first HN Search version last year. Readability of the search results must be outstanding to allow you to quickly understand why the results are retrieved and what they are about. We ended up with 2 gray colors and 2 font weights to ease the readability without being too distracting.
If you see unnecessary stuffs, please tell us. We are not looking for the most ‘minimal’ UI but for the right balance between usability and minimalism.
Most HN Search users are advanced users. They know exactly what they are searching for and want to have the ability to sort and filter their results precisely. We are now exposing a simple way to either sort results by date or popularity in addition to the period filtering capabilities we already had.
We thought it could make a lot of sense to be able to read the comments of a story directly from the search result page. Keeping in mind it should be super readable, we went for indentations & author colored avatars making it really clear to understand who is replying.
Because HN Search users are advanced users, they want to be able to customize the way the default ranking is working. So be it, we’ve just exposed a subset of the underlying settings we’re using for the search to let you customize it.
Since Firebase is providing the official API of Hacker News, fetching the items currently displayed on the front page is really easy. We decided to pair it with our search, allowing users to search for hot stories & comments through a discreet menu item.
Let’s go further; what about being able to star some stories to be able to search in them later? You’re now able to star any stories directly from the results page. The stars are stored locally in your browser for now. Let us know if you find the feature valuable!
As you may know, the whole source code of the HN Search website is open-source and hosted on GitHub. This new version is still based on a Rails 4 project and uses Angular.js as the frontend framework. We’ve improved the README to help you being able to contribute in minutes. Not to mention: we love pull-requests.
Now is starting again the most important part of this project, user testing. We count on you to bring us the necessary information to make this search your favorite one.
To try it, go to our experimental version of HN Search, go to “Settings”, and enable the new style:
It’s open-source and we’ll be happy to get your feedback! Just use GitHub’s issues to report any idea you have in mind. We also love pull-requests 🙂
Source code: https://github.com/algolia/hn-search